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The Interest to the Chosen Vocation among Students of Colleges and Technical Schools of St. Petersburg

This year, our lab starts holding a regular seminar. On Thursday, the 10th of March, the SELS staff and students gathered together to discuss one of the lab projects.

In 2014, the laboratory staff conducted a survey on the structure of the field of secondary vocational education (SVE) in St. Petersburg. During the project, we tried out various methods for assessing the environment in educational institutions, and focused on researching the vocational trajectories of young workers. We surveyed students of the first and last years from 30 technical colleges.

Larisa Shpakovskaya started the seminar with an introductory outline of the structure of secondary vocational education in other countries: Belgium, USA, and Sweden.

After that, Ksenia Tenisheva described this SELS project in detail. In her presentation, she focused on the attitude of students towards their chosen vocation and their colledge. These parameters play an important role in assessing educational institutions. The research has shown that it is possible to design a reliable estimate of the students’ interest in their vocation, even at unequal “starting positions”, i.e. already existing stratification among colleges based on the socio-economic characteristics of the attending students. For this purpose, in 2014 the SESL team developed two constructs, “prestige of the vocation” and “vocational involvement”.

It is a well known fact that, in any educational institution, the first year students have a higher motivation and a better opinion of their institution than students of the last years. With time, any activity (including studying) would become a routine and eventually lose its appeal in the eyes of the participants. The surveys of the first year students and of the students of the last year conducted at the same time should help us to understand the dynamics and changes in their opinions about their chosen vocations during the study process. An analysis of the obtained data has shown that the changes in the perceived level of prestige of the chosen vocation is associated with the social and professional status of students' families.In particular, Ksenia focused on the changes in the attitude towards the chosen vocation in students from the families with a very low socio-professional status, whose popular choice of the vocational trajectory includes primary school and secondary vocational education. Even though these students initially are more interested in obtaining a profession, by the last year their interest in the chosen vocation stays at the same level, provided that they have been enrolled in colleges affiliated with higher educational institutions. The students who enrolled and continued their studies in the former technical schools, would rapidly lose interest in their vocation by the time of graduation.

The presentation also touched on the problems of educational plans and projected income upon obtaining the vocational training.

By Marusya Sergeeva and Dasha Khodorenko